This Thanksgiving Consider Letting Your Grocery Store do the Cooking

This Thanksgiving Consider Letting Your Grocery Store do the Cooking
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Let's be frank for a minute. The holidays are exhausting. They are a wonderful time spent with close friends and family, but they are exhausting.

One way to lessen the holiday stress is to let someone else take over the cooking. Many grocery stores and restaurants now offer pre-made heat-and-serve holiday meals that take the preparation out of your day, giving you more time to enjoy your guests rather than running around in the kitchen.

If you absolutely enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and for many that's the best part, check out this post to see how some planning and preparation can help keep things running smoothly.

If you can't cook or just simply don't want to, we've done a little research and found that more places than ever are offering to do the job for you.

Grocery Stores

Many grocery stores now sell holiday packages that include an entrée and several side dishes. Many have several sizes to choose from that feed from two to 12 people. If you're looking for something different, many grocery stores include options other than turkey, like prime rib or ham.

If you don't need a full meal, you can order items a la carte. You can purchase sides to go with your famous deep-fried turkey or order a fully cooked turkey to go with your famous mashed potatoes.

Some grocery stores have more options that others so it's important to shop around to see what stores are offering. Whole Foods, for example, offers organic turkeys while Kroger provides gluten-free options. Whole Foods also offers a vegan option, though it's a serving for only one person.

Food Lion doesn't prepare its own food, but is offering a meal deal that includes a ready-made turkey and several frozen sides for a flat price.

Keep an eye out for places where you can save money. Loading coupons onto your rewards card, like at Kroger, can help you save on your meal when you check out. Whole Foods is offering a $10 coupon when you order by a certain date.

Restaurant Catering

If you're looking for something that's more restaurant-like, contact your favorite eatery and see if they are offering any sort of holiday meal packages.

Bob Evans is opening their doors for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving, but you also have the option to bring home a Farmhouse Feast. Boston Market is no stranger to these types of meals and makes packages that can feed four to 12 people.

Order Online and Ship it to Your House

Most grocery stores give you the option to order online, but in many cases, you'll have to make arrangements to pick it up. There are some online options that will ship your meal right to your house.

Specialty stores like Williams and Sonoma and Omaha Steaks will send ready-to-cook meals through the mail, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Be mindful of any ordering deadlines grocery stores might have. Harris Teeter, for instance, has a deadline of November 23, but supplies are limited. If you wait too long you might have to change your order.

Some packages include foods that are precooked and just need to be reheated. Others, will need to be cooked completely. Keep this cooking time in mind when you're scheduling the day. A fully cooked turkey may still need an hour to heat. Even though the food is already cooked, follow proper food safety practices and make sure everything is steaming hot. Follow any reheating instructions provided with your meal.

Use any serving guides as a suggestion and make changes using your best judgement. For example, Publix defines a side-dish serving as ½ cup. Children may eat more turkey and less sides, freeing up more for the adults. A vegetarian will skip out on the meat and double the vegetables.

If you can, try to sample whatever you plan on ordering. Many grocery stores keep these same side-dishes in their deli cases. Whole Foods often offers similar dishes in its hot buffets. Some grocery stores may even have special tasting promotions. When in doubt, talk to a store manager to see what can be arranged.